I lettered in basketball, soccer and track in high school. I never once rode in any coach’s personal vehicle. Ever. (In fact my most vivid memories are of long bus rides to, and especially from, athletic events on school buses with vinyl seats and no air conditioning.) Which is why I am confounded that parents of four students at Homestead (Florida) Senior High School saw nothing wrong with their children riding in (what they thought was) the personal vehicle of a track coach to a meet in Gainesville, over 350 miles and six hours away. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe this:
Walter Chambliss, 26, was arrested after he was clocked driving 86 mph in a 70 mph zone on State Road 91 in Fort Pierce Friday, according to a Florida Highway Police report.
The report says Chambliss didn’t have his license on him. When he gave police his name and social security number, they noticed he had a number of suspensions for failing to pay tickets and failing to appear in court.
Chambliss wasn’t authorized to drive the rental car he and the students were in, so it was towed. Had the students not called their parents, they would have been stranded on the side of the road.
Even worse was their parents’ (in my opinion) entitled reaction when they found out about the incident. Did they blame the coach for misleading them about this being a school-sponsored event when it wasn’t? (Or for speeding? Or for driving with a suspended license?) Did they blame themselves for not questioning why a school-sponsored track meet would have four students stuffed into a personal vehicle with a coach (rather than the whole team, or if only certain students qualified, a school or school district vehicle)? No. They blamed the police and the school (and one parent demanded counseling for the “traumatic” experience of his sixteen- and eighteen-year-old sons being brought to the next exit in separate vehicles):
Mr. Wilson says he was under the impression that this was a school field trip and tried to call the athletic director at Homestead Senior High to help bring the boys home.
“He said he didn’t know anything that was going on and offered me no assistance to get them back home,” said Mr. Wilson.
The boys say they were dropped off at a gas station where relatives arranged to pick them up.
“There were no district events on Friday or Saturday because of the Holiday. The trip was not sanctioned by the school or district,” Miami-Dade Public Schools said in a statement released Monday. “The assistant coach approached some parents and asked their permission to take the students.”
Chambliss said he took the students upstate as a mentor, not a school employee.
“The facts still remain, they have and they did leave the kids on the side of the road and didn’t try to get them back home,” said Clayrinski Wilson. He said he requested that his children speak to a school counselor about the traumatic experience, and said that request had not been fulfilled by Monday afternoon.
Mr. Wilson, just for the record, the school is not responsible for anything that happened to your sons, traumatic or not. If you feel they need counseling, hire a therapist. You’re their dad. It’s your job. It’s your R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y.